Eight Simple Rules

If you decide to seek out a contractor (which is often a good idea) you should make sure to follow these steps:

  • Research the specific work you want done. Contact multiple contractors in your area.
  • Get written estimates from each candidate. Compare the estimates.
  • Check the backgrounds of your top candidates.
  • Make your pick and agree to a contract.
  • Meet to talk about the project and go over samples.
  • Keep up with all necessary payments

[source: ­Concrete Network]. ­ 

Pouring Stamped Concrete

­Before you do anything, you need to decide on a stamped-concrete design and order the stamps. Once you've done this, you can prepare the site.

After deciding where you'd like to place your concrete, mark the area with corner stakes. These will act as the initial outline while you plan. Make sure to measure and plan your space according to the dimensions of the stamps you'll be using. Doing as little of the design work by hand as possible is best [source: Concrete Network].

Eventually, these stakes will be nailed into the outside of the forming boards, so place them where they will be roughly 6 inches (15 cm) from the end of each board. Within the framed area, dig out about half a foot (15 cm). Pack down the dug out area and spread gravel and sand throughout about 2 inches (5 cm) deep. This layer will need to be compacted as well.

Now you're ready to secure your forming boards into place, but you must lay the concrete with a downward slope of a quarter-inch drop for every foot of length (.6 cm for every 30 cm of length). Start by securing the forming board at the highest level of your area and installing them accordingly down the slope. Coat the boards with cooking oil to prevent the concrete from sticking. Line the bottom of the hole with 6 mil plastic. Place wire mesh within the entire area of the site, propped up on small blocks so that it's even with the top of the frame [source: Lowes].

Begin pouring in the center and then spread the concrete throughout the form. Screed the concrete by dragging a 2-by-4 along the top, smoothing the surface. After it's smooth you can place the stamps on top of the wet concrete (coat the stamp with oil to keep it from sticking). Apply even pressure by walking on the stamps or pressing them with a large mallet [source: Carter].

Now that you know the process, you're ready to make an informed decision. Head over to the next page to see what options you have for the design of your stamped concrete.